Saturday, June 1, 2013

Crews Chase Down Spotfires on Beacon Hill

Firefighters working overnight on the Beacon Hill Fire east of Grants Pass chased down and extinguished a handful of spotfires. The crews made progress on improving the fireline, burning out unburned fingers of fuel inside the fireline, and mopping up hot spots near to the fire's edge.

The size of the fire was revised upward to 115 acres.

Today, approximately 50 firefighters will be working to contain and extinguish the wildfire. Four fire suppression crews, four engines and two water tenders have been assigned to the fire.

The roadblock on Jones Rd. was removed yesterday at 10:00 p.m. The excellent roadblocks that were established yesterday afternoon were staffed by Grants Pass Public Safety officers and members of Josephine County Search and Rescue.

Video: Short clip of Beacon Hill Fire from helicopter.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Beacon Hill Fire Situation Improving

Crews have nearly completed a fire line around the 75-acre Beacon Hill Fire. Grants Pass residents will likely see flames on the hill tonight as firefighters ignite unburned vegetation along the fire line. The fire is not contained, and the burning out of unburned fuel is part of the process toward containing the fire. Crews will be working on the fire throughout the night.

Both lanes of Interstate 5 northbound are open, and roadblocks have been lifted on Beacon Drive. Jones Road will remain closed until at least 10:00 p.m. tonight.

Help Wanted

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry is looking for information about a vehicle that likely caused the Beacon Hill Fire, which burned approximately 75 acres of grass and brush east of Grants Pass today. The fire started between 3:15 and 3:30 p.m. in the area of Milepost 55 of the northbound lane of Interstate 5. Anyone who saw a vehicle that was throwing sparks during that period of time is asked to call ODF’s Grants Pass Unit at (541) 471-3883. A description of the vehicle’s color, type (sedan or pickup, etc.) or any other information may help fire investigators to determine who caused the fire.

Beacon Hill Fire Burns 75 Acres

A fast moving grass and brush fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. today near Interstate 5 east of Grants Pass. One home was damaged by the wildfire and an outbuilding burned. No injuries have been reported, and no evacuations have been called for.

The fire is burning through heavy brush and mixed forest on Beacon Hill. Steep terrain and continuous vegetation caused the fire to grow rapidly between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Beacon Drive is closed to traffic, and one lane of the northbound lane of Interstate 5 is closed, but traffic is moving through. Jones Rd. is closed.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Approximately 100 wildland firefighters and 70 structural firefighters are working to contain the blaze and protect homes.

Two helicopters are dropping bucketfuls of water on the fire, and two bulldozers are constructing fire line.

Structural fire departments involved include Grants Pass Fire-Rescue, Rural-Metro Fire Department, Illinois Valley Fire District, and numerous engines from fire departments in Jackson County.

Suppression of the fire is being jointly managed by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry and Grants Pass Fire-Rescue.

Crews will be fighting the fire tonight and additional crews have been ordered for Saturday. Heavy smoke on Beacon Hill will be visible until nightfall, and residents will likely smell smoke throughout the night and well into Saturday.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fire Season Begins June 3

Fire season on forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Southwest District begins June 3. The fire danger level is currently “low” (green) but will move to “moderate” (blue) on Monday at 12:01 a.m. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) will be 1 (one). This declaration affects state, private, county and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Fire season is determined by the state forester when vegetation becomes dry and fires become harder to control.

Wildfire activity has been brisk this spring with 54 fires burning 48 acres. Twenty-three of the fires were caused by lightning during storms May 5-6. The largest of the lightning-caused fires was a 6-acre fire in the Elk Creek drainage. Seventeen of the fires were caused by escaped debris-burning fires.

Weather and fire behavior forecasters are predicting that this summer will be hotter and drier than recent years. Southwest Oregon, and much of the West, has near-historic low levels of snowpack and vegetation fuel moistures. Even though recent rainstorms have helped to forestall the start of fire season, the moisture wasn’t enough to reverse the long-term drying trend.

Fire season restrictions that will go into effect on June 3 are as follows:
  • Debris burning will be prohibited, except burn barrels for which a burn permit has been obtained from ODF or your local structural fire protection district. Burn barrel use will be completely prohibited beginning July 1;
  • The use of fireworks on forestlands will be prohibited;
  • Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, will be prohibited;
  • In the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River between Grave creek and Marial:
  • Camp fires must be in fire pans or on a fire blanket that is placed on sand or gravel bars between the river and the high water mark, and only in areas which are naturally free of flammable vegetation. Ashes must be hauled out;
  • Smoking will be permitted on sand and gravel bars between the river and the high water mark, and only in areas naturally free of flammable vegetation, or in boats and rafts while on the river;
  • Travelers must carry a shovel and a bucket with a capacity of at least one gallon;
  • Commercial operations, such as timber harvesting conducted on forestlands will be required to have fire suppression equipment on the job site at all times. A watchman must also be provided.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152